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  • Muzik First


Even at her most vulnerable, Mitski has always retained an enigmatic quality. Despite 2018's "Be The Cowboy" becoming the singer-songwriter’s most successful album yet, she announced in 2019 that she would be taking a hiatus for an unknown period. As it turns out, the break dovetailed neatly with the pandemic: It took roughly two years to craft what would be her newly released sixth studio album, "Laurel Hell," heralded with last year’s single “Working For The Knife.” The time off, and its attendant creative freedom, have resulted in Mitski’s most liberating work. However, it’s also led to her safest album yet—one that feels easily outshined by her previous material. Despite coming back after a self-imposed hiatus, it still feels like there’s a thick pane of glass between Mitski and the listener. On earlier albums like "Puberty 2" and "Bury Me At Makeout Creek," you can feel Mitski inviting you into her mind. Much of "Laurel Hell" comes across like she’s scared to offer up as much emotionally as she did before—wanting to withhold as much of herself as she can while making her art. In theory, it’s a good intention, but it leaves something desired when it feels like an artist is holding back. "Laurel Hell" is a definite maturation for Mitski, whose body of work has historically been all about holding fast to pain. This new record argues there can be beauty in letting go and finding the lighter side of life, but only if it doesn’t ring emotionally hollow.

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